Sixers stumble as players take a knee in BBL opener
Sydney Sixers and Hobart Hurricanes players took a knee in a stand against racial injustice and persecution, as Jordan Silk marked the opening night of the Big Bash League with some jaw-dropping acrobatics.
The Sixers failed to reignite their engines after the dismissals of James Vince (67 off 41 balls) and Jack Edwards (47 of 39) in successive overs, losing by 16 runs though they claimed a "bash boost" point for leading after 10 overs.
Silk may have already provided one of the highlights of the tournament, which has been talked down by its free-to-air rights holder Channel Seven in its feud with Cricket Australia.
Once hailed by Ricky Ponting as the best fielder in Australia, Silk stunned former legends and fans around the country with his gravity-defying save in the deep to prevent Hobart's Singapore-born recruit Tim David from scoring a six.
Leaping at full stretch over the boundary rope, Silk snared a one-handed "catch" almost parallel to the ground before throwing the ball back into the field of play. Though technically a chance, his effort left former and current stars in awe.
"This is so bloody good!!!" Glenn Maxwell tweeted.
Former great Mark Waugh, one of the best fielders of his generation, predicted "you won't get a better bit of fielding this season" while commentating on Fox Sports.
Colin Ingram and David both smacked half-centuries for the Hurricanes, who recovered after losing two wickets from the first two overs.
The Sixers, moved by stories from teammates affected by racism, have pledged to make take a knee before every game in the tournament.
The gesture has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement which spread globally after the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer.
Australian cricket has grappled with how to recognise racial inequality in this country, with the national women's team taking part in Barefoot Circles in their games against New Zealand.
The national men's side followed suit by deciding to perform the ritual, which it feels is a more appropriate recognition of First Nations people, before the start of every series.
Sydney Thunder, Adelaide Strikers and the Hurricanes took the knee in the WBBL while players from other clubs showed their support by taking off hats or helmets.
Star West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, who has spoken widely about racism in sport, made a PowerPoint presentation to Sixers teammates while other players spoke about their experiences of racial prejudice.
Former Australian international Dan Christian, from the Wiradjuri tribe in NSW, joined the Sixers this season for their title defence.
"Tonight, in our first game of BBL|10, and throughout the tournament, the Sixers will take a knee prior to the first ball in support of our team mates and those who have been impacted by racism," the Sixers said in a statement.
"The stance follows an education session provided by several members of the squad and comes with unanimous support from players and staff.
"In Australia and all across the world we continue to see examples of people being mistreated simply due to the colour of their skin. At the Sixers, we believe this is unacceptable.
"As a club and as individuals we have made the commitment to better educate ourselves on the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, to fight for inclusion and justice, and to stand with our communities on the path to reconciliation and equal rights. We encourage all members of the community to do the same.
"The BBL squad will continue our education throughout the tournament, including undertaking cultural awareness training early next year."
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Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald